Friday, January 28, 2011

How Great Thou Art - Alan Jackson

How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep! (Psalm 92:5)

The Glory of God in Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good.
And God separated the light from the darkness.

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Glory of God in Jesus Christ: Justifying the Ungodly

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in Jesus Christ: Deliverer of Grace” – 2011-01-23
Paul's letter to the Romans is a description of the power of God let loose among the ruin of men, women, and children. This letter is about the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is about God and about the reality that God made a way, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to justify the ungodly. The Bible describes the ungodly as you and I, as us all, as everyone - because without God, without Jesus Christ, we are “all” ungodly: “There is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23).

The book of Romans reveals that God sees our hearts and that God understands our hearts – and that none of us is able to stand upon his or her own righteousness in the presence of God: “None is righteous, no, not one.” This is not the kind of news we like to hear. It rubs against the grain of our self-worth and self-esteem. Yet this is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You see if you understand that you are ungodly to start with - then you can be justified, because we have a God who has made a way to justify the ungodly. If we are ungodly, we qualify. But if in self-righteousness we refuse to acknowledge that we are ungodly – we have no hope.

But there is hope in Jesus.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Feasting on the Grace of God

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36:7-9

"Eating Grace By Grace" posted by Douglas Wilson – 2011-01-15
One of the glories of the new covenant is that we get to eat and drink our salvation. In the Garden of Eden, our first parents were privileged to eat their communion with God in the tree of life. And after our fall into sin, it is significant that the gospel is presented to us as a restoration to that same tree of life.

“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2).

But how do we eat this salvation? How do we bite, chew, taste, and swallow? How is that done? The biblical answer is that we do all this by believing. We do this by faith.

As Jesus introduces His discussion of what the manna in the wilderness represented, which was the bread of life that Jesus Himself was, He said this. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).

Biting, chewing, tasting and swallowing are the work of God. And how do we do this work of God? We believe in Jesus. How can we do that? We cannot do that unless God gives us the gift of faith. Faith is not something we can generate on our own steam. Faith is not something we can pull up by some kind of self-effort. Faith is grace. You eat grace, and you eat by grace. And this is why we say grace. Come, and welcome.

The Glory of God’s Grace in Leadership

"Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood . . . And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (Acts 20:28, 32).

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in Scripture: Grace Revealed” – 2011-01-16
Before a pastor or an elder or husband or a father or leader or teacher of any kind can watch over someone else’s life - they must first “pay careful attention” to their own lives. For those of us who claim Jesus, that means our talk, walk and lives must line up with God’s Word.

We who are leaders in the church must live our lives for God before we can speak into the lives of others. It’s like the instructions we receive regarding how to use an oxygen mask on commercial airlines. Adults are told to place the oxygen mask on themselves first, and then to put a mask on any small child that might be with them. This is because the person who does not first put the mask on themselves, will not be able to help little children who cannot help themselves. In a same way pastors, elders, and leaders of God’s people must first tend to themselves by seeking to deepen their own relationship with Jesus Christ – before they will be able to pastor, shepherd, lead the flock of God. . . .

The “word of his grace is able to build (us) up” because it begins with the raw materials of our sinful lives. “The word of his grace” builds new lives out of ruined lives, order out of confusion, security out of fear, strength out of weakness, stability out of uncertainty, beauty out of ugliness, love out of hate, peace out of war, life out of death. When we read, study, teach, meditate, hear, memorize and preach “the whole counsel of God” we receive the “inheritance” of “the word of his grace” - in order to live above and beyond our sinful nature, and above and beyond the forces of our sinful, fallen world.

The charge to "pay careful attention to yourselves” and read, study, teach, meditate, hear, memorize and preach “the whole counsel of God” is not just for pastors, elders, overseers and church leaders. If you are a father or mother or a supervisor or a business owner or a carpenter or a student or a fisherman or a salesmen or a handyman - or if you are retired or a husband or a wife or a son or a daughter - this charge is for you too. If you are a born-again follower of Jesus Christ – you should passionately and joyfully be living your life by “the whole counsel of God” by “the word of his grace.” Each one of us is called to be a leader; we should be leading others to Jesus by “the word of his grace.”

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Glory of God’s Grace in Humility

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. . . . and after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5: 6-7;10)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God in Humanity: In Need of God’s Grace” – 2011-01-09
Sir Edward Elgar was a British composer who wrote oratorios, symphonies and operas at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of twentieth century. One day he was listening to a young woman, a soprano with a beautiful voice singing his music. And she was singing exquisitely. She had a beautiful voice technically – and she sang with clarity, range and wondrous purity. Yet someone overheard sir Elgar say, "She will be truly great when something happens to break her heart." Though she had a beautiful voice – this woman was a still missing a deeper dimension of authenticity.

We are a desperately needy people. We were created by God to glorify God, but because of our sinful nature, wrought in the Garden of Eden, we are totally helpless and dead in our sin. When that truth finds its way into the depths of our heart – we will then begin to sing of the grace of God with the deeper dimension of authenticity of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. The glory of God in humanity is that the “God of all grace” has provided for a desperate needy people who are in great need of God’s grace.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Glorious Eternal Purpose of God’s Sovereign Grace

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Excerpt from “The Glory of God as Provider of Grace” – 2011-01-02
Our adoption by God is rooted in the eternal purpose of glorifying God’s grace: “to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” In the original language the phrase “to the praise of His glorious grace” literally reads “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” What this means is that God chose us “before the foundation of the world” - and adopted us in spite of our unworthiness as fallen sinners once we were born into this world – “for the purpose of His will” to make His grace look glorious. Why God did save us? For "the praise of the glory of His grace” . . .

. . . God’s central purpose in choosing, adopting and saving us from the enslavement and condemnation of our sin is not to make us happy or to provide us with His blessings or to help us escape the torment of hell. God’s purposes are eternal, not temporal. God saved us "so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”. . .

When that day comes the entire universe will be filled with the glory of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ, the Son of God - the King of kings and Lord of lords. And that glory, the Bible tells us, will be in the making His people the showcase of His sovereign grace towards them. Jesus will fill the universe with his glory by showing the universe how he chose us, how he predestined us, how he adopted us, how he came for us, taught us, suffered for us, died for us, rose for us and reigns with us; how he called us and justified us and cleansed us and keeps us and will raise us up through him and will glorify us in him and will satisfy us with him forever and ever - “according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.”